Institute of Sports Science

Cognitive Activation in Physical Education: a Scoping Review

Developing pupils’ physical literacy in PE requires the acquisition of cognitive-reflective dispositions. Appropriate teaching measures encompass approaches such as “cognitive activation” or “cognitive engagement” (e.g. Herrmann & Gerlach, 2020; Wang et al., 2019). This study compiles empirical findings that characterize the conceptual background, the implementation and effectiveness of cognitive-reflective PE.

In order to cover the current state of research in German and English publications, we conduct a scoping review (Tricco et al., 2018). Thus, relevant search terms (e.g. kognitiv*, reflection, cognitive engagement, higher-order thinking) are applied to various data bases such as Web of Science, ERIC, SportDiscus.

The three-step hit selection (screening of titles, abstracts, and full texts) is performed independently by two reviewers based on previously defined inclusion criteria (e.g. aim, setting, population, type of publication). The final data analysis of the selected hits is realised  by means of qualitative content analysis.


  • Hapke, J. & Waigel, S. (2019). „Sporttreiben mit Köpfchen” – Kognitive Aktivierung im Sportuntericht. In A. Gawatz & K. Stürmer (Hrsg.), Kognitive Aktivierung im Unterricht. Befunde der Bildungsforschung und fachspezifische Zugänge (S. 148-162). Braunschweig: Westermann Gruppe.
  • Sygusch, R., Hapke, J., Liebl, S. & Töpfer, C. (2021). Kognitive Aktivierung – zentraler Baustein der EKSpo-Aufgabenkultur zur Kompetenzorientierung im Sportunterricht. In J. Wibowo, C. Krieger, E. Gerlach & F. Bükers (Hrsg.), Aktivierung im Sportunterricht (2. erweiterte Auflage, S. 184-203). Hamburg: Universität Hamburg